Weeks lauds Durham solar array and urges Executive Council to support clean energy economy

DURHAM, NH - Executive Council candidate and government reformer Dan Weeks on Thursday attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $2.1 million, 651-kilowatt Oyster River Forest Solar Array, the second-largest solar project in New Hampshire. Weeks praised the project developers, ReVision Energy, IGS Solar, and the Town of Durham, and urged his opponent to allow New Hampshire municipalities to follow Durham’s lead in building the state’s clean energy economy. 

Weeks is challenging District 5 incumbent Councilor David Wheeler, who opposed the Durham array and has consistently voted to block municipal solar systems as recommended to the Executive Council by the Public Utilities Commission. Funding for such projects is provided, in part, by the NH Renewable Energy Fund, which receives payments from private utilities for non-compliance with the state's clean energy requirements. No tax funds are included in the fund.

"New Hampshire is on the verge of a new clean energy economy, with the potential to generate thousands more middle-class jobs and put our environment on a more sustainable course for future generations," Weeks said. "It is time for Executive Councilors to stop their senseless denial of climate science and allow the New Hampshire Renewable Energy Fund to do its job."

The Oyster River Solar Array was made possible through a $500,000 grant from the Renewable Energy Fund after Republican Executive Councilor Joe Kenney switched sides and joined the two Democratic Councilors in approving the project last June. Councilor David Wheeler, who is backed by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity which rejects climate science, was one of two Republicans who voted to block the project. Republican Councilors have succeeded in blocking similar municipal clean energy projects in the past.

According to project developer Revision Energy, the Durham solar field will generate over 850,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year for an annual CO2 reduction of nearly 1.5 million pounds. With an estimated payback period of 5-10 years and minimal maintenance, the system is expected to generate free energy and considerable cost savings for the town of Durham for the next 30-50 years. 

New Hampshire currently ranks near the bottom of northeastern states in adoption of renewable energy and second highest in per-capita carbon consumption, despite the fact that the state's nascent renewable energy sector has already seen over 70 startup companies and thousands of jobs created to meet the burgeoning demand from residential and business consumers. Weeks and his family generate the bulk of their energy from a 17-panel rooftop solar array.

"As New Hampshire's highest elected body charged with approving state spending and appointments, it is the Executive Council's job to make smart investments for the good of future generations," Weeks concluded. "I respectfully urge my opponent to rethink his ideological opposition to renewables and support the clean energy economy for the good of our citizens and the natural environment."